Frontman Anthony Kameka of a Calgary-based indie band, Windigo, has faced both economic and creative challenges to keep his band afloat. But despite the difficulties, Kameka remains sharply focused on achieving his dreams as a musician.

Windigo has been on the Calgary music scene for five years now, always with Kameka as lead. Over the years, the band and has had a number of members in its line-up, including Barry Mason of the late band, Zachariah and The Prophets. “One thing about Windigo is there’s been so many changes internally—different members leaving for whatever reason and I’ve always been lucky to get to play with the best,” he says.

“Two of us aren’t in the band anymore,” Kameka says regarding the recent change in the band’s lineup. He goes on to say that some Windigo songs can no longer be performed live due to the loss of a singer with a high enough vocal range.Breaking the initial barrier into the music industry is only one of the many challenges artists face. Photo by Jasper McGregor.

Windigo is a labour of love for Kameka and despite his office job, music is his main goal. “If I could live off the wage of a musician, I totally would do it in a heartbeat, but that’s just not possible right now,” he says.

In the beginning, Kameka relied on his own income to sustain the band. Now he manages to break even with the bank.

After listening to the band, Bombay Bicycle Club, Kameka decided he needed to be a part of the indie band scene. “They just blew my mind and I was like: this is what I’ve got to do for a living.”

It wasn’t always indie sound for the Windigo frontman, “I started playing in a band in grade eight because my best friends all wanted to start playing music. We all got instruments for Christmas and we started playing in a punk band.”

After his junior-high pop-punk phase, Kameka’s interest in music grew to include indie rock—a subgenre of alternative rock, usually defined by publishing through an independent or non-major label. After hearing more bands such as Arcade Fire and Stars, he decided to take the direction of indie music. “I started writing music of that genre and I just gathered up all my friends and said let’s start an Indie rock band.”

“For me, I was always inspired by soul, R&B.” – Anthony Kameka.Windigo was founded with the vision of implementing different elements of indie rock. The band is constantly evolving its sound to suit different ideas. Windigo is incredibly diverse-sounding and can range from soft to psychedelic.

“For me, I was always inspired by soul, R&B,” he says. “It’s very reflective of my interests at the time and my fellow band-mates.” Kameka goes on to say that he has always been able to be a writer for a band and enjoys his creative artwork.

Kameka believes that artists don’t get fully introduced to the music scene until you’re 18 because most of the gigs happen at local bars.

Breaking the barrier into the music scene is a recurring struggle met by many aspiring artists. Kameka was no exception, “It felt like it was harder to get shows and harder to break into the scene, which I think, is normal for every new artist.”

However, the local music scene has seen a drastic change over the years, “It was not as crazy as it is today,” he says when commenting on Windigo’s Jan. 2016 album release. it was the first time he had seen spectators crowd surfing at a Windigo show.

He has been playing in Calgary since before 2008 and has seen many new bands turn up in recent years. “I see a show and I go ‘Oh my God this band is awesome and they’re from here’ — So I think the artistry has definitely developed since that time.”

Kameka says that there are challenges with expectations. “Sometimes I feel a little bit of pressure, like I hope this next song is as good as what everyone hopes it would be.”

Despite these pressures, he remains passionate about writing music, “That’s the dream really. If one person loves your music and listens to it every day, that’s the best feeling in the world for sure, man.”

jmcgregor@cjournal.ca

The editor responsible for this article is Hannah Willinger and can be reached at hwilinger@cjournal.ca